A heat wave is forecasted to sweep across much of the southeast this weekend, bringing near-record temperatures in the 100s with a heat index of up to 110 degrees. As Alabamians struggle to stay cool, some are concerned the increased energy demand on the power grid could lead to a repeat of the rolling blackouts seen last Christmas during Winter Storm Elliot.

U.S. Rep. Dale Strong (R-Huntsville) sent a letter to Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) president and CEO Jeffrey Lyash at the beginning of June expressing concern and skepticism about the power company's efforts to shore up its infrastructure and resources to prepare for the summer heat. However, the TVA said it's doing all it can to prepare and is ready to handle the extra load.

"It is important to note that TVA is continually investing in our system, and we've been preparing for summer weather and high demand," Scott Fiedler with TVA media relations told 1819 News. "As we do ahead of each peak season, we used our extensive seasonal readiness program that includes reviews and actions to ensure generating assets are prepared to meet the weather conditions they are designed to meet. This includes completing corrective and preventive maintenance on key equipment, such as oil coolers and heat exchangers; ensuring the readiness of heat removal equipment; analyzing and addressing marine growth on key components; and making sure our employees are prepared to work safely in the summer heat."

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Fiedler said should an issue arise, several "high impact replacement parts" are at the ready to reduce downtime during a repair.

He also mentioned the TVA's demand response program, which is when a business or industry signs up to voluntarily reduce its power load during "periods of high demand" in exchange for a discount.

"TVA currently has 1,600 MW (megawatts) of demand response and is looking to add more," he said. "Business and industry who sign up for the demand response programs receive a discount and sign a contract that includes a plan for how the customer would reduce power, if called upon during periods of high demand, and how much they'd be willing to reduce power usage." 

The TVA and Alabama Power both offer tips on their websites for conserving energy, such as running the dishwasher at night, unplugging unused appliances and replacing the filter on your conditioner unit.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email daniel.taylor@1819news.com.

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